According to its supporters, Marxism–Leninism is a scientifically–based system of philosophical, economic and socio-political views; the doctrine of the cognition and transformation of the world, of the laws according to which society, nature and human thinking develop, of the ways of the revolutionary overthrow of the exploiting system and the building of communism; the world outlook of the working class and its vanguard, Communist and Workers’ Parties.
Marxism emerged in the 1840s. The needs of social development, which revealed the fundamental vices inherent in the capitalist system and the entire system of exploitation, the awakening of the proletariat to political struggle, the great discoveries in the natural sciences and advances in historical and social studies confronted social thought with the task of elaborating a new, genuinely scientific theory. This historic task was fulfilled by Marx and Engels. Lenin started on his scientific and revolutionary activities at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, when capitalism which has entered its last stage, imperialism, had begun to collapse and socialist society had emerged. He defended Marxism from attacks by its enemies, analysed the latest achievements in science from a theoretical point of view, and summed up the new experience gained in the class struggles. He enriched the theory of Marxism and raised it to a qualitatively new level.
The emergence of Marxism-Leninism was a genuine revolution in the history of social thought. It is a direct continuation and development of the achievements of social thinking in philosophy, political economy and socialism. It is a consistent, integral scientific doctrine, made up of three basic component parts:
Marxism-Leninism imparted new ideas to other social sciences, too. Each of its component parts falls, in turn, into several independent sections, or disciplines. As people accumulate knowledge in the corresponding sphere, they gradually develop into independent sciences (for example, the political economy of socialism).
All the component parts of Marxism-Leninism are permeated with principal, fundamental ideas, such as consistent materialism, i. e. a materialist approach to all real phenomena (society included), and the dialectical method of cognising these phenomena. All the component parts of Marxism-Leninism are characterised by a critical, active, revolutionary spirit and a creative nature.
An important place in Marxism-Leninism is occupied by the theory of scientific communism; it reveals socio-political patterns, ways of transforming society along communist lines, and is a graphic embodiment of the active, transformative principle that is typical of Marxism-Leninism. The central place in scientific communism, as well as in the whole of Marxism-Leninism, is occupied by the teaching on the historic mission of the proletariat as the force called on to crush the power of capital and lead the building of a new, communist society.
Marxism-Leninism is a partisan, militant doctrine; it is the ideology of the proletariat and expresses the vital needs of all working people. Its proponents do not refuse to collaborate with those who adhere to other progressive theories in the name of democracy and peace; they are prepared to ally themselves with people who hold anti–scientific, backward views in order to achieve these vital goals. But they absolutely reject reconciliation with hostile ideologies. As a revolutionary doctrine, Marxism-Leninism is opposed to reformism. While recognising the need for a struggle to effect reforms under capitalism, it has never refuted its revolutionary programme and tactics. Marxism-Leninism won its positions and evolved in the struggle against opportunism, which camouflaged its deviation from Marxism-Leninism by recognising it in word only and calling for its “development” in such a way as to discard its fundamental propositions as “obsolete”.
Marxism has traversed a long road, almost a century and a half. Its first stage was that of the formation and growth of the working class in advanced countries and the initial combination of scientific socialism with the workers’ movement, and the emergence and consolidation of Marxist working-class parties. Its second stage is connected with the working class passing to a new and higher stage of development as the era of the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and socialist transformations sets in. The Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia was a genuine triumph for Marxism-Leninism; it has passed the decisive historical test in the fire of revolutionary practice.
Marxist-Leninist ideas were formulated and developed under capitalism, when education and scientific activities were the prerogative of the ruling, exploiting classes. The truth and irrevocability of the fundamental propositions of Marxist-Leninist theory have been proved by the possibility of successfully applying it under the diverse and constantly changing conditions obtaining in different countries and by its use by millions upon millions of people. This in no way signifies that every tenet put forward by Marxists is an absolute truth in its final form. To ensure the further development of Marxism-Leninism and its existence as a science, which predicts the future and paves the road to it, certain propositions should be modified to conform to changing conditions. Marxist-Leninist parties diligently work to develop, in a collective way, the theory of Marxism-Leninism and creatively apply it in their practical activities. Marxism-Leninism is the only reliable basis for elaborating a correct strategy and tactics. It arms the people with an understanding of the historical perspective, helps them determine the direction of socio-economic and political development for many years ahead, and guides them through the complicated tangle of international events. The strength of Marxism-Leninism lies in its constant creative evolution.
Marxism-Leninism reflects the loftiness of communist ideals. It is fiercely attacked by all enemies from the imperialist camp and by the revisionists who have joined ranks with them. But its great, invincible strength helps it to come out on top in all clashes with its adversaries, for it is consonant with the historical truth.
Marxism-Leninism is internationalist by nature. The preaching of "national communism" and attempts to establish some kind of "national Marxism" are incompatible with it. It has now spread throughout the world, and its propositions are omnipotent; yet they cannot be applied automatically in any country: for that, the national, historical and other specific features should be scrupulously studied and an in-depth analysis be made of the concrete situation. Marxism-Leninism is not a collection of ready-made formulae and dogmas that should be committed to memory and then applied in policy-making; on the contrary, it is hostile to all kinds of dogmatism.
Marxism-Leninism is not only a genuine lodestar in the practical activities to transform society. It provides the method for a profound study of the world and is a prerequisite for fruitful scientific research, and the lifespring of artistic creativity. As a scientific world outlook, Marxism-Leninism correctly orientates people in life, helps them realise their place in the world and their relationships with others, and choose a line of behaviour distinguished by its ideological steadfastness, political staunchness, firm principles and genuine humaneness.
- A person who had studied the theories of Marx and Lenin in depth and adopts and applies their political philosophies is not by virtue of that a "Marxist–Leninist", although they may be.
- The Foundations of Leninism Lectures Delivered at the Sverdlov University, published in Volume 6, works during 1924 of Collected Works Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953-54